Category: Baby Gear

Best Toddler & Preschooler Shoes: PLAE Shoes Review

I’ve been meaning to write a review for PLAE shoes for years at this point. That’s how long I’ve loved them and how long I’ve personally recommended this brand of shoes to friends and acquaintances.

I don’t know why I haven’t written a review in all that time, but it’s definitely long overdue.

I am a big advocate of flexible soles in footwear for pre-walkers and young children. I’ve featured baby moccasins several times on my blog, for that very reason. But, as kids get older, they need more protection and support from their footwear.

However, flexible soles still remain essential to healthy foot development. Not to mention that, with the amount of running, jumping, and climbing that kids do, flexible soles allow them to stay connected with the ground or surface they are climbing on.

Ever since Max graduated from moccasins, I have only bought PLAE sneakers and boots for him to wear. We are on our 4th or 5th pair at this point.

ty the sneaker

So, why do I love this brand of shoes so much?!

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The Ultimate Breastfeeding Gear Guide

I am grateful that I was able to have a breastfeeding relationship with both my children. I nursed Max until he was 8 months old and I’m still nursing Alexa at almost a year. Throughout that period, I’ve used a lot of different gear and equipment for nursing. This is my checklist of all the breastfeeding supplies that I’ve ever needed.

the-ultimate-breastfeeding-gear and supplies-guide

1. Vitamin D drops – Most pediatricians recommend that you administer vitamin D drops to your baby if you are breastfeeding. They usually prescribe Enfamil D Vi Sol. Stay away from that crap. Use pure vitamin D drops instead. (You can read my review comparing the different brands here.)

2. Lanolin cream – If you are like 99.9% of the breastfeeding population, when you first start breastfeeding, it will feel like “someone” took the coarsest piece of sandpaper he/she could find and viciously went to work on your nipples. And by “someone,” I do mean your angelic, darling, newborn baby. You will need lanolin cream (a.k.a. wool grease).

3. Breastfeeding bra – For the first few weeks, when you are stuck at home, and basically breastfeeding 24/7, don’t bother wearing anything at all. However, once you are required to face humanity again, you’ll need a good breastfeeding bra. If at all possible, stay away from underwire when breastfeeding. The last thing you want is plugged ducts.

4. Nursing pads – Some women leaks and other don’t. You won’t know until you start breastfeeding the extent to which you might leak. But if you do leak a lot, you can’t go without nursing pads.

5. Breastfeeding top – You need to wear tops that allow easy access to the goods. You can buy tanks like these that are designed for that purpose. I bought a few when I was pregnant with Max. But, the second time around, I just wore a lot of low cut tanks.

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Top Survival Must-Haves for Baby’s First 3 Months

Now that we’re well past the newborn stage for both kids, I can reflect on the items I could not live without. The following products are the things that helped me make it through the roughest months!!

Top Survival Must-Haves for Baby's First Three Months (2)1. Yoga ball | 2. Beco Gemini baby carrier| 3. Baby Connect app | 4. Cream Haus play mat | 5. Baby Bjorn Bouncer Balance | 6. NoseFrida Snot Sucker | 7. Gap footed one-piece | 8. Dohm sound machine

1. Yoga ball This yoga ball is the unsung hero of our household. Not enough credit is given to yoga balls. If it wouldn’t cause death stares, I would gift a yoga ball at every baby shower.

When I was pregnant, it was a great place to sit to relieve back pain. When I was in labor, it was amazing in helping me to deal with labor pains. And, when I needed to rock my newborn to sleep, nothing worked better than bouncing on a yoga ball. Nothing.

2. Baby carrier – Hands-down the single most essential piece of baby gear for me is a good baby carrier. I am preferential to the Beco Gemini baby carrier for the newborn period because I like how soft and padded the panel is. The base also gets very narrow so the baby can easily be in an optimal M-position.

The number one place a newborn baby wants to be is on you. A baby carrier will save your arms, your back, and your sanity.

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Best Non-Toxic Foam Play Mat: Cream Haus Folding Play Mat Review

Non-Toxic Foam Play Mat Cream Haus ReviewI have to preface this review by saying that I did not think there was a foam play mat on the market that I would consider to be truly non-toxic. I was wrong. But if the thought of using plastic anything bothers you, you should just stop reading here. (You can also check out my Best Non-Toxic Play Mats for Baby guide for a comprehensive list of all non-toxic play mats.)

When Cream Haus USA contacted me, requesting a review for their Folding Play Mat, I was skeptical about the mat’s non-toxicity claims. I had never heard of this company but I soon learned that Cream Haus is a premium South Korean brand which, until recently, was not available in the US.

When speaking to Brian, the US distributor for Cream Haus, about the properties of the play mat, he was immediately and unabashedly transparent – something I found very refreshing when dealing with a baby play mat company. He attached two complete and unredacted ASTM reports from a CSPC certified lab for both the polyethylene foam material and the polyurethane leather cover which showed non-detectable limits of heavy metals, lead, and phthalates.

Upon further inquiry, Brian also confirmed that the play mat has been tested for and is free of flame-retardants, formamide, formaldehyde, VOCs and azo dyes.

(These reports have since been published on their website here and here.)

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Best Non-Toxic Play Mat: Peppermint Pinwheels Quilted Play Mat Review

Non Toxic Play Mat Review - Peppermint PinwheelsI’ve come to realize: I have a thing for play mats. I’ve always liked fabrics, blankets, and comfy, cozy things. I guess that translates into a love for beautifully designed, high-quality, non-toxic play mats. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I am happy to announce that I have found a winner with the Peppermint Pinwheels Quilted Play Mat.

Awhile back, when I was doing research for my non-toxic play mats guide, I came across a few recommendations for Peppermint Pinwheels but I was reluctant to include it on my list. I could not find many in-depth reviews and I was concerned that the quilted play mats did not provide sufficient padding for hardwood floors.

But these beautiful and unique play mats made an impression on me and have always stayed in the back of my mind. Since Alexa is becoming more and more mobile (and has hit her head on our floors more times than I care to admit), I decided to buy a play mat for our living room area. I reached out to the owner of Peppermint Pinwheels, Stacey, and she generously provided me with a discounted mat for review.

Peppermint Pinwheels play mats are all handmade, by Stacey, from thick, canvas-weight 100% cotton fabrics and are completely non-toxic. The play mats come with padding that is either a single or double layer of 100% unbleached cotton batting. There is an option to add a triple layer of batting to make the mat thicker and/or a waterproof PUL layer to make the mat waterproof. (It is worth noting that PUL, polyurethane laminate, might have toxicity concerns. However, the PUL will be sandwiched between thick cotton layers so any exposure to potential toxins will most likely be inconsequential.)

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